Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Eight - Fear
Something's been bugging me about my photography of late, namely how "safe" it is. I've allowed my fear of failure, of getting "it" wrong, to hold me back. I often shoot safe photos that adhere to all the rules of photography but lack the creativity and style that I'd prefer.

On top of my own simmering discontent, I recently came across Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk on creativity where he makes a good case for how our education system beats creativity out of kids. More often than not we're taught to regurgitate the correct answers, not the creative ones, which is a great if you're building a bridge, but less so when it comes to the arts.

An then there's the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. I read it over the holidays. Gladwell makes the point that being smart (I.Q. wise) and creative aren't the same and that creativity is often best measured by how well someone can think outside of cultural norms. For example: What are all the different uses for a blanket?

And today I came across Trey Radcliff's blog entry about a three hour talk with Hans Zimmer, the famous movie composer. In it Trey mentions how he and Hanz "leap-frogged [their] way into an artform" meaning that neither one started out with a classic education in photography or music, and are therefore not constrained by the classic notion of either one.

I see that lack of constraint in my daughter's photography as well, and I realize how often I critique her photos based on my (mis)conception of what's right when in fact her work is often more creative than my own. Obviously I have much to learn, or unlearn, as the case may be.
Most shocking to me though, was the difference between two photo shoots I did this past week.

The first was fine as photo shoots go, but the images weren't satisfying. I felt like I wasn't giving it my best because I was afraid of some sort of "failure".

The second shoot was with my photographer friend Alex Suarez and a model who goes by the name "Eight". That's a photo of her above. She's new to modeling and not inhibited by a my notion of how-it-should-be-done. I.e. she's creative. She's also not "pretty" in the classic sense. Her modeling style made me uncomfortable ... or as my friend Alex pointed out, she took me out of my comfort zone into a place that was less about shooting a pretty model, and more about making an interesting photograph.

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